Detaining 'Enemy Combatants': A Timeline

A guard mans a watchtower at Camp Delta, where most of the 'enemy combatants' are held.

A guard mans a watchtower at Camp Delta within the military base at Guantanamo Bay, where most of the "enemy combatants" are held. Joe Skipper/Reuters/CORBIS hide caption

itoggle caption Joe Skipper/Reuters/CORBIS

Here are some of the milestone moments in the three years the Pentagon has detained suspected "enemy combatants" at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba:

Sept 18, 2001: Congress votes on a resolution authorizing President Bush to use "all necessary and appropriate force" against al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Jan. 11, 2002: A U.S. military plane from Afghanistan touches down at Guantanamo Bay carrying 20 prisoners, marking the start of the current detention operation.

January 2003: A year into the "war on terrorism," , Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld allows interrogators to toughen their tactics and use "mild, noninjurious physical conduct" to pry loose more crucial intelligence from Guantanamo detainees. The policy is rescinded just six weeks later when Rumsfeld orders officers to formally seek his approval before getting tough with detainees.

August 2003: The military reveals that at least 34 suicide attempts by detainees have been thwarted at Guantanamo, as well as a massive "self-harm action" where dozens of detainees tried to hang themselves with bedding or clothing. One suicide attempt resulted in permanent brain damage, but none of the other incidents led to serious injury.

June 28, 2004: The U.S. Supreme Court rules United States law applies to Guantanamo, and prisoners there could challenge their detentions in federal courts. The Bush administration has yet to fully comply with that ruling.

Sept. 9, 2004: After nearly three years of detention, a man picked up on a battlefield in Afghanistan is sent home to his native country when a military tribunal in Guantanamo determines he is not an enemy combatant. He is the first of many detainees who will be freed outright after years of interrogation and detention.

Feb. 5, 2005: In an interoffice memo, Rumsfeld calls for broader support for a plan to transfer a "significant" number of Guantanamo detainees to facilities in Afghanistan — part of a broader Pentagon effort to cut the population at Guantanamo by releasing some outright and transferring others for continued detention at other facilities outside the United States.

March 30, 2005: Another 38 detainees, some interrogated for years without legal recourse, are declared not to be "enemy combatants" after all and are therefore eligible for release.

Nov. 7, 2005: The Supreme Court agrees to hear a challenge to the military tribunal system brought by detainee Salim Hamdan. He is accused of being Osama bin Laden's driver. The Supreme Court's action forced a stay in the case of Australian detainee David Hicks, whose trial at Guantanamo was set to resume in November.

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